On Wednesday, word broke that Sony was working on a smartwatch that eschews the typical LCD screen and instead uses a wrap-around e-paper display. But this wasn’t a hush-hush secret project like what you’d expect from Apple: The Wall Street Journal reports that Sony’s Fashion Entertainments group did little to keep its smartwatch prototype under wraps.
According to the Journal, the Fashion Entertainments team showcased the watch—which it calls the FES Watch—in a campaign on the Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake that launched in September. However, since Sony’s name wasn’t on the campaign, it was able to fly under the radar and look like just another crowdfunding campaign.
The story behind the story: Fashion Entertainments is part of a larger group within Sony, called the New Business Creation Department, whose sole goal is “to draw on internal and external insight to provide a catalyst for innovation and to provide the opportunity for new ideas to transition into successful new businesses.” Sony has lost some of its cool and its reputation as an innovator over the years, and these efforts seem to be an attempt to reclaim some of the company’s dulled luster.
Not ready yet…
The FES Watch wouldn’t be the first e-paper smartwatch, but in a market currently dominated by comparatively bulky—albeit more feature-packed—LCD-based devices, the FES Watch prototype looks to be a bold step in a different direction…assuming the company is bold enough to actually release it to a wider audience, that is.
Although contributors to the crowdfunding campaign can expect to get their own FES Watch in May, according to the Journal, a Sony spokesperson stated Thursday that the company “decline[d] to comment on specifics such as the possible commercialization of this project, or any targeted product launch date.”